Related to this question, what do you do if you think your child may be gifted?

My son is very advanced in a number of areas (most notably speaking in 5 and 6 word sentences, and having a tremendous vocabulary, by the time he was 18 months old), and while I understand that it is too early to determine if he's actually gifted, or if he's just ahead in some of his milestones, I don't want to risk missing opportunities for helping him reach his full potential.

At the same time, I absolutely do not want him to be pressured, or pushed into performing beyond what he is comfortable with. I also do not want to facilitate any rifts between him and his age-appropriate peers (something that, should he prove to be significantly gifted, I fear may happen eventually).

In short, what is the right balance between encouraging possible giftedness, and avoiding "hothousing"? Are there specific steps that I should take now? Or do I wait until he's older (he'll be 2 in September)?

  • In my answer to the linked question, I pointed out that a) the defining factor in future success is practice, and b) being "gifted" as a child is not a predictor of future results. The answer for your toddler is exactly the same as it is for any toddler: help him find activities that are challenging and fun, encourage him to try hard, and allow plenty of time for play.
    – philosodad
    Jul 24, 2012 at 3:01
  • @philosodad I think this would be an example of a time when it is appropriate to cross-post an answer. I would certainly upvote your answer in both places (I already upvoted in the other question).
    – user420
    Jul 24, 2012 at 12:38

2 Answers 2


You make sure to praise hard work rather than natural gifts.

"You got a good score on that test! Well done! We know how hard you worked for that, and we're so proud!" is good, where as "Clever girl! You're so bright!" is not so good.

EDIT: Young children learn lists: pokemon, dinosaurs, etc. This is cool, but perhaps learning about the relationships between those animals is better. Or why some animals are big and slow and have grinding teeth vs some animals that can run fast and have sharp teeth and claws - and then relate that to modern life. "Cats play with their food, maybe because mice and small birds have sharp teeth and claws and beaks. If a cat got a scratch on their chin, and it got infected, they'd have a hard time hunting."

And so on.

Allow plenty of play.

Answer their questions! And if you don't know, teach them that not knowing is fine, and tech them how to look stuff up.


I suggest looking to offer up as many resources regarding his interests as you can.

With Alice, we made sure she was surrounded by books and games about words and letters (because she loves reading and decided she was going to learn when she was three).

Depending on the specific interests of your child you can play games that will help build upon his talents and interests and be fun for everyone. Can you speak a little more about your specifics because I might even be able to suggest games or activities that would be pertinent.

As he gets older (2nd or 3rd grade or so), if it proves to be true that he remains "ahead of the curve" I really would suggest you look into AEGUS (just do a search) as it seems you are in the US.

  • I didn't include his specific interests, because I wasn't sure if they'll change over time; the information I've seen suggests that kids his age change interests fairly often :) However, he's been consistently interested in animals in general (he can identify dozens of animals ranging from lemurs to elephants), and dinosaurs in particular (he can identify by name 5-6 species). We've already taken him to the zoo and an aquarium, and plan on doing more activities along the same lines as he develops. He does love books in general, and we read to him daily (and have since before he was born).
    – user420
    Jul 23, 2012 at 14:52
  • 2
    Our kids found it really fun to put toy animals "on the map" and figure out where they lived but that was at 3. Other than that I'm sure you are aware of many crafts, toys and books available out there about these subjects. You can also try a search for "preschool dinosaurs" and "preschool animals" to find good finger plays, and the like - but nothing really unique and specific comes to mind for those topics. Have fun. Jul 23, 2012 at 18:16

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